A Pint of Plain for All Life’s Ills
“When things go wrong and will not come right,
Though you do the best you can,
When life looks black as the hour of night -
A pint of plain is your only man.”
(Read the full poem here: https://www.maths.tcd.ie/~bradyn/flann.html)
So begins “The Workman’s Friend” by Flann O’Brien. In Ireland, that nation of great drinkers, Flann O’Brien was one of the greatest. A character in the novel At Swim Two Birds composes this short ode to the restorative powers of beer, porter in particular.
“Plain” refers to plain porter, a beer we at the Civil Life love. You have been enjoying our new Eclipse Baltic Porter for several weeks now. As supplies dwindle, you needn’t worry, our classic London Porter will be returning in a few weeks.
Let’s consider the differences between these great beers. The Baltic Porter, being a lager, is somewhat lighter bodied, though registering a respectable 7% alcohol. Its layered roast has notes of chocolate, dried fruit, and even licorice.
Our London Porter is a classic English recipe, with all English malts, including Maris Otter, brown and black malts, and some crystal and flaked barley for body. We use our ESB yeast strain and Northdown hops. This Porter is rich and full-bodied, with rich roasted malt character, including cocoa, coffee, and caramel. Our own barman, sign painter, and Swedish automobile mechanic Chris Valier refers to it as “a meatball.”
Just in time for the autumn and winter, it’s comfort food in a glass. You can’t go wrong with porter. According to Flann O’Brien, a pint of plain combats bad luck, poverty, ill health, hunger, and even national strife. Talk about a timely tipple! Porter is the worker’s restorative. And whether you carry a hod of bricks all day, or shift zeros and ones on a screen, you deserve the blessed consolation of a pint of one of the finest porters available.
Join us in our well-wooded pub for a pint. Enjoy the transition from Baltic Porter to London Porter. Feel free to call it plain (though in truth, it’s anything but). As always we wish you good luck, wealth, good health, a well-stocked larder, and national unity. Sláinte!
Though we are a self-described malt-forward brewery that judiciously uses hops for balance, we have made a few versions of what may still be America’s favorite style of craft beer, IPA.
America’s craft breweries were built on distinctive, hoppy pale ales. Breweries like Anchor, Sierra Nevada, and Bert Grant’s introduced these hoppy ales to intrepid American beer drinkers looking for more flavor and traditional ingredients and techniques.
Only Bert Grant called his beer IPA, but arguably Anchor Liberty Ale (dating from 1975) is the grandfather of the American IPA. These beers generally used dry hopping to increase flavor and aromatics. For the time, they were quite bitter (averaging around 50-60 or so IBUs). They often used a single hop like Cascade.
These days, American IPAs go well beyond this. Our take on the American craft classic celebrates the origin of the style, but highlights several hop varieties, without punishing your palate with over-the-top bitterness.
We start with American Pale Ale malt and a little Maris Otter and add some specialty malts for flavor and body. We add three American varieties of hops to the kettle for bittering. The beer is then dry-hopped with Chinook and Falconer’s Flight, a proprietary blend including Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Citra, Cluster, Columbus, and Crystal, plus several mysterious experimental types.
Chinook hops give the beer notes of pine and spice, while the Falconer’s Flight hops impart floral, citrus, and tropical characteristics. The aromatics are intensely pleasant, and the varied flavors are nuanced but persistent. There is enough malt to keep the beer balanced and just modest bitterness.
Just because we don’t focus on IPAs doesn’t mean we don’t make a great one. If you haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for? So far, it’s doing well here at the pub, so hurry in for a pint.
Happy Sixth Birthday … Raise a Civil Pint of Dortmunder
We just celebrated our sixth anniversary. If all of you fine regulars keep coming in, we may make it another six years. To celebrate this milestone, we brewed a special beer. In keeping with our philosophy of reproducing some of the world’s great traditional styles, we made our first Dortmunder-style beer.
This crisp, refreshing lager originated in the late-nineteenth century in Dortmund, a town in southern Germany. In those days, the beer of choice was dunkel, a dark, malty, somewhat sweet beer. Dortmund is in the middle of a region with lots of coalmines and steel mills. After a long, hot day of hard labor, the workers weren’t terribly excited about consuming dark malty beers; they needed crisp golden beers to quench their thirst. They gravitated to helles.
Dortmunder Export was created to compete with helles. The epithet “export” was appended to the name since much of the beer was sent north, were the people of Holland and northern Germany were thirsty for the style.
Much like Burton-on-Trent, Dortmund had hard water with exceptionally high sulfur content. This water gave the beer a special character lacking in the helles lagers of the day.
The beers were light, crisp, and dry. Hard water gave them a lighter color, like many of the pilsners in northern Germany. Dortmunders are similar to both pilsners and helles beers. They are a little more hoppy than helles and a little less hoppy than pilsner. They are somewhat malty but quite dry, consequently satisfying and refreshing in equal measure. They generally come in around five percent alcohol, an ideal strength to promote conviviality but not incivility.
Our Dortmunder drinks like a big pilsner. It has a grainy/bready malt intensity, but remains crisp and refreshing, with classic noble hop spice.
Come down to the pub and help us celebrate our anniversary, as well as the long and noble brewing traditions of Germany. You won’t find a beer more suitable to the waning days of summer in Saint Louis, a city with no mean heritage of German brewing. Thanks for supporting us for six years. Prost!
Fall Updates from Your Civil Friends
We are starting our seventh year of civility and great beers, both on tap and in cans. You can still fill your growlers with any of the twelve draft beers we feature each day, but don’t forget about cans to go. We only sell them at the pub for now, but the more you drink, the sooner we can launch our plan for global domination … or at least an expansion including our own canning line.
A canning line will bring our cost down so that you can find Civil Life beer at your favorite stores. But for now, don’t miss out on our continued great deal on cans to go. Six packs are just nine dollars. And you can walk away with a mixed case for just $32!
We currently have three great choices in cans: American Brown Ale, German Pilsner, and Vienna Lager. And come mid-September, our delicious Northern English Brown Ale will be available in cans.
And next time you are planning where to go with family and friends, remember that we always have some great wines by the glass. Not everyone drinks beer. We like to think we have a beer for every taste, but for dedicated wine lovers, we have excellent choices.
Drawing on years of experience with wine, Joe curates a changing list of great offerings from around the world. Take two unique wines currently available: Furmint and Refošk.
Furmint is a grape hailing from Hungary, where it often finds its way into the sweet wines of Tokay, the best of which rival French Sauternes. But Furmint also makes an excellent dry white wine. It’s the color of moonlight with racy acidity and some balancing minerality. Until recently, one rarely saw dry Furmints outside of Central Europe.
We also have a delicious red wine from Slovenia. Slovenia, you say? It turns out wine has been produced in that region since before the Romans introduced wine making to France. Refošk is a grape native to the Istrian peninsula, with dark skins and great intensity. This unique offering has lots of dark fruit and a hint of violets on the nose.
Bring your committed wine drinker friends along next time you come to the pub. Whether you love beer or wine, the Civil Life is a great place for friends and family to spend time together. And don’t forget to grab some cans to go! We raise our dimpled mugs, nonic pints, cider tumblers, and wine glasses to you, friends and valued customers. Cheers!
A thank you to all that came to our 6th Anniversary event yesterday. I'll post the video later this week of the State of the Beer Union address. We raised $3730 for Puerto Rico. Today, I will divide the money received between directrelief.org and americares.org both have links that allow donations to be ear-marked to Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico. Both also have under 4% administrative costs.
Most of the winners have been notified but we are still tracking a few down as we are missing the information from a couple of tickets.
1. Case German Pilsner #1 336115 Keith M. (Keith the last digit on your phone number is missing from the ticket but rest assured if I don't hear from you I will be making 10 phone calls.
2. 12 pack German Pilsner Mike M. 080023 (Mike, I called but the call didn't go through. I'll call later today again.)
3. We know one of the below as they are a regular and picking up later but the other had no name on the ticket.
12 pack German Pilsner 336063
12 pack German Pilsner 336433
The entire list below of winners has been notified either in person or in a voice message. Please pick up your items at your convenience during open hours.
Case German Pilsner Jeff/Erin
Case German Pilsner David N.
Case German Pilsner Will/Hall
Hat #1 Joe S.
Hat #2 Tim C.
Tshirt #1 Marc M.
Tshirt #2 Don M.
Hoodie Rich plus case of beer
12 pack German Pilsner Tom L.
Tickets to Brewers Guild Harvest Festival Geni M.
Tickets to Brewers Guild Halloween Festival Sean/Sam
Case German Pilsner and Walrus I found in the alley behind my house Paul B.
Big Winner Dan N. Brewer for a Day!
We also sold a few extra Brewer for a day for 500!
Cheers and thanks for helping us raise money for our fellow US Citizens. Jake
The Civil Blog has returned. It is predominantly authored by Civil Life Barman, Dr. Patrick Hurley, who can be found tending to our bar patrons on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He is also responsible for tending to our draft lines, which is recognized as one of our most important tasks. Special guest writers will appear from time to time. We hope reading this blog will give you much insight about the Civil Life and most importantly help you understand a bit more about all of us that work here and the beers we put our hearts into.